GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Father Manuel Musallam, head of the World Folks’s Group for Justice and Peace in Jerusalem, urged Hamas on April 13 to arrange a Christian press heart to defend the motion in opposition to allegations of mistreatment of Christians.
Just a few days earlier, the Palestinian Central Election Fee printed the ultimate checklist of candidates for the parliamentary elections to be held in Could. Hamas’s electoral checklist included just one Christian amongst its 132 candidates after the withdrawal of a number of Christians.
Musallam revealed in a March 30 interview with Hamas-affiliated Al-Resalah newspaper that a number of Christian candidates have been intimidated and pressured to not run for media he didn’t title. He mentioned that “overwhelming and misleading propaganda” was getting used to tarnish Hamas’s picture and its ties to Christians.
“Hamas has been unfairly focused by a smear marketing campaign,” Musallam added, saying Hamas’ media weapons failed to reply adequately.
Musallam informed Al-Monitor that European media misrepresent Hamas, particularly in its dealings with Christian residents.
Musallam, who beforehand led the Catholic Church within the Gaza Strip, mentioned Christians usually are not persecuted beneath Hamas, as some Western media declare.
A 2019 US State Division report on worldwide non secular freedom famous that whereas “Christian teams have reported that Hamas usually tolerates the small Christian presence in Gaza and doesn’t power Christians to obey Islamic regulation,” Christmas celebrations as a public vacation have stopped in Gaza. after Hamas got here to energy. The report additionally notes that, in response to media accounts, Hamas has not investigated or prosecuted circumstances of spiritual discrimination in opposition to Christians in Gaza.
Musallam has revealed that his nephew who lives in Ramallah meant to run for Hamas’s checklist, however his household pushed him to rethink his determination. He blamed a smear marketing campaign in opposition to Hamas that led his household to worry that their enterprise pursuits could be affected and that the Israelis would persecute them.
Basem Naim, a member of Hamas’s worldwide relations workplace, informed Al-Monitor that his motion welcomed Musallam’s name to ascertain a media heart and noticed it as an revolutionary concept that reveals that the Christian Palestinian neighborhood is keen to defend the picture of Gaza on this planet.
Naim defined that Hamas will study the concept and contemplate appointing a Christian media advisor. He famous that the Western press demonizes Hamas as a result of some Western international locations maintain destructive views on Arab Islamists typically.
Naim additionally defined why some Christian figures withdrew their candidacy from Hamas’s electoral roll, saying: “Now we have supplied numerous Christian figures within the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip the chance to run for the Hamas checklist. motion, however they withdrew for a number of causes, corresponding to strain from household or well being issues, and even worry of Israeli restrictions on their motion and work. “
Hamas is accused of being one of many causes for its declining numbers within the Gaza Strip, which it has managed since 2007. The accusations embody Hamas imposing restrictions on Christians in an try and power them to to migrate. Nevertheless, Hamas supporters say the motion’s safety companies present safety to Christian church buildings, faculties and different services, and that Hamas leaders ship greetings to them throughout their trip yearly.
In keeping with the Diyar Consortium, a Bethlehem-based analysis group, Gaza’s Christian inhabitants has certainly declined. Solely 850 Christians stay within the Gaza Strip. Of those, 70% belong to the Greek Orthodox neighborhood and the remaining 30% are Roman Catholics.
Christian non secular figures verify that the variety of Christians in all Palestinian territories, not simply Gaza, has declined because the begin of the Israeli-Palestinian battle in 1948 as tens of 1000’s immigrated to Arab and Western international locations .
Farid Zahir, professor of journalism at Birzeit College, informed Al-Monitor that the creation of a Christian press heart inside Hamas ought to have been carried out years in the past. However the motion’s media discourse, notably aimed on the West, has matured significantly since Hamas gained the legislative elections in 2006.
Zahir defined that the problem Hamas faces is to alter the perceptions and beliefs entrenched within the Western media in the direction of the motion, as they describe it as a terrorist motion. He expects the European Union to acknowledge Hamas if it wins the subsequent election to keep away from repeating the error of 2006, when the EU refused to acknowledge Hamas’ victory within the parliamentary elections.
Mustafa al-Sawaf, former editor-in-chief of the native newspaper Felesteen, near Hamas, informed Al-Monitor that the decision for a Christian press heart is a artistic thought and that it might assist Hamas to right its distorted picture. within the minds of Western audiences and a few Arab audiences.
Sawaf identified that the problem Hamas faces in implementing the concept stems from the problem of staffing the middle in gentle of the strain Christians within the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip are beneath on account of of their work with Hamas. That is what occurred within the query of the candidacy for the motion’s checklist for the legislative elections, he mentioned.
Hamas is working to forge hyperlinks in Europe and different Western arenas and to have its title faraway from European and American terrorist lists, and it hopes Christians within the Palestinian territories will assist it obtain this purpose by strengthening its relations with them.